1. MLK Day of Service: An Opportunity for Environmental Justice

    By Kevin Jefferson and Eric Arnold, Urban Releaf On this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service (MLK DOS), we helped Urban Releaf plant trees on G Street in East Oakland. This is where we’ve been doing a lot of work the past few months. The area needs a lot of help; it’s one of the worst blocks in the city in terms of blight and illegal dumping. And as you might expect, its tree canopy is minimal. We wanted to have our MLK DOS event, which we’ve been doing for the past seven years, here, because this...
  2. Prop 39 Implementation

    Let’s Shade Some Schools California voters passed Proposition 39 in 2012 by a 60% margin in order to eliminate a corporate tax loophole and provide $550 million each year over the next five years for energy efficiency projects throughout the state.   Flash forward to the present. The California Energy Commission has adopted Proposition 39 implementation guidelines, and is ready to roll out nearly $430 million to schools and community colleges to support energy efficiency upgrades that range from solar panels to HVAC improvements to, yes it is true, tree planting projects that support energy conservation.   This is a...
  3. Governor’s Budget Directs Millions for Local Projects

    Just over a year ago, California ReLeaf staked 100% of its public policy agenda on the idea that cap and trade auction revenues were the very best opportunity to breathe new life into CAL FIRE’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, which allocated its last remaining project bond funds in March 2013.  In other words, we went “all-in” on cap and trade.   Today, Governor Brown released a proposed 2014-15 State Budget that directs $50 million in auction revenues to CAL FIRE with a significant portion directed to support urban forestry projects that help meet the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse...
  4. Government Shutdown Hitting Close to Home

    We recently received this letter from Sandy Bonilla, the Director of the Urban Conservation Corps for the Southern California Mountains Foundation. Sandy spoke to California ReLeaf Network members at our August 1 workshop. The audience was moved by the work that she and her colleagues have done in San Bernardino. Unfortunately, that work has come to a halt. Hopefully, Sandy and the rest of the UCC will be back to work soon.   Dear Friends & Partners: As many of you know, our federal government has shutdown due to congress failing to pass legislation for funding government agencies and services....
  5. San Bernardino Youth Renew Parks and Streets

    Southern California Mountains Foundation’s Urban Youth Tree Corp Project, funded through grants made possible by California ReLeaf, CAL FIRE, and the Environmental Protection Agency, was a very successful and effective effort to engage inner city, at-risk youth in urban tree care at the local parks and on the streets. 324 youths were recruited and trained through 32 environmental education, tree care, and urban forestry workshops through the project.   The focal point of the project was tree care and field education and experience for the Urban Conservation Corps (UCC). The Southern California Mountains Foundation provides a workforce development program that...
  6. Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program Releases Updated Draft Guidelines

    The Strategic Growth Council has released draft guidelines for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentives Program, which offers grants to cities, counties, and designated regional agencies to promote sustainable community planning and natural resource conservation. This draft includes substantial changes to how applications are assessed.   Below is a summary of the proposed changes. For more details on these explanations, please see the Workshop Draft.   Strongly prioritize greenhouse gas emission reduction projects. Measure progress with actionable and valuable indicators based on reliable quantifiable or qualitative data. Prioritize project implementation by focusing on projects likely to be implemented in...
  7. CSET Seeks Feedback

    Community Services Employment Training (CSET), a California ReLeaf Network member, is looking for input from the public. In an attempt to offer meaningful services to the community, the organization invites the public to provide information that will be used as part of its strategic planning efforts. CSET seeks this information every two years.   This year, CSET asked residents to fill out an online survey. The results will be revealed tonight at their board meeting. Community members who wish to give their input in person are welcome to attend the meeting, which starts at 5 p.m.   Community members who...
  8. We’ll Drink to That!

    This year, Barefoot Wineries has created a new wine called “Impressions” to celebrate the work that nonprofits to to strengthen our communities. Each bottle will feature a “Sole of the Year”.   We’re proud to say that the founder of Urban Releaf, a California ReLeaf Network member, is one of those “soles”!   Kemba Shakur founded Urban Releaf in Oakland. Since 1998, they’ve planted more than 15,000 trees. We’re proud to call them members and happy to see urban forestry identified as a great cause to change communities.   Congratulations, Kemba! We know you’ll continue to make a difference in...